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WIGILIA (Polish pronunciation: ) is the traditional Christmas
Christmas
Eve vigil supper in Poland
Poland
, held on December 24. The term is often applied to the whole day of the Christmas
Christmas
Eve, extending further into Pasterka , the midnight Mass held at Roman Catholic churches all over Poland
Poland
and in large Polish communities worldwide at midnight preceding the Christmas Day
Christmas Day
. In this usage, the supper itself is rather called "wieczerza" or "wieczerza wigilijna", using an Old Polish word meaning "dinner" or "large supper", stemming from Proto-Indo-European root *_vesper_ - "evening". The Last Supper translates into Polish as "ostatnia wieczerza".

The word _Wigilia_ derives from the Latin
Latin
verb _vigilare _, "to watch", and literally means "eve". The feasting traditionally begins once the First Star has been sighted (usually by children) in the sky at dusk (around 5 p.m.). Therefore, Christmas
Christmas
is also sometimes called "_Gwiazdka_" (the little star, referring to the Star of Bethlehem
Bethlehem
).

CONTENTS

* 1 Traditions and customs

* 1.1 The evening Supper

* 1.1.1 The Shepherd\'s Mass

* 1.2 The Christmas
Christmas
breakfast

* 2 See also * 3 References

TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS

Christmas
Christmas
tree in a Polish home

Children usually decorate the Christmas
Christmas
tree on this day (if it has not been set up before). Often a bundle of hay is placed under the tablecloth or in each of the four corners of the room to symbolize the fact that Jesus
Jesus
was born in a manger .

As a game, children would remove pieces of straw from under the table. Green would mean a year of wealth or possibly a marriage, while a black piece of hay would mean bad luck much like the "piece of coal" represents in modern Christmas
Christmas
lore. The drawing of hay was only for fun and was rarely paid attention to. Various other divinations are semi-seriously practiced such as hiding a nut (or another small food piece) in a cake and dividing it among family members. Whoever finds the nut inside his portion is guaranteed to have a successful year.

Another tradition practiced by some, is to leave one extra place-setting for an "unexpected guest". This is to celebrate the tradition of hospitality and inclusion. The empty seat is left open just in case a traveler, family member, or a friend knocks on the door, so there would be a place for them to join in the celebrations.

Family members begin the celebration with a prayer and breaking of the Christmas
Christmas
wafer (_opłatek _ - symbolizing the bread eaten daily — our day-to-day common life; very old Christian tradition of sharing bread) and wishing each other good fortune in the upcoming new year. (After the prayer, usually done by the man of the house, the opłatek is broken and pieces are given to everyone attending the table. From there, everyone breaks off a piece of their opłatek, and shares it with everyone else, wishing luck and joy in the upcoming year, for Christ has been born. This wish is usually finalized by a kiss on the cheek.) Readings from the Bible
Bible
concerning the nativity of Jesus
Jesus
are practiced in more religious households. In the countryside, it is customary to feed livestock (though not dogs, cats, and other pets) with the wafer, as the animals of the household are to be treated as people that day and are traditionally believed to speak with a human voice at midnight.

THE EVENING SUPPER

After the First Star appears in the sky and after sharing the Christmas
Christmas
wafer (opłatek), the Supper begins. A traditional Christmas meal in Poland
Poland
includes fish dishes and Borscht (beetroot soup) with Uszka (tortellini). Fish provides a main component of the Christmas Eve meal across Poland; since 1940 more popular are carp fillet, carp in aspic , "carp Jewish-style" (gefilte fish ) etc. Wigilia
Wigilia
is observed as a Black Fast meaning that most Poles abstain from eating meat on this day. Many households also prepare a great variety of special Christmas
Christmas
rollmops , matjas herring , poppy seed cakes (makowiec ), dried fruit compote and other delicacies including edible Christmas
Christmas
ornaments. Common dishes are various fruits (dried apples, plums, apricots, dates, etc.) and salads. Regional dishes include _żurek _, siemieniotka (in Silesia), mushroom soup, different salads , pierogi filled with cheese and potatoes as well as cooked dried mushrooms and cabbage (kapusta ) or cabbage and yellow peas; stuffed cabbage with mushrooms and rice gołąbki (cabbage rolls), _kluski _ with poppyseed, _kutia _, and makówki (in Silesia).

It is still believed that whatever happens on Wigilia
Wigilia
affects the following year. So, if a quarrel should arise, it foretells a quarrelsome and troublesome year.

The number of country courses is traditionally established to be either twelve or an odd number (in Silesia
Silesia
); Twelve is symbolic of the number of months in the year as well as to celebrate the twelve disciples of Jesus.

The Shepherd\'s Mass

Some families as well as individual worshippers attend the traditional midnight mass/Shepherd's Mass (_pasterka _), where Christmas
Christmas
carols are also sung.

A major part of the Wigilia
Wigilia
festivities is the opening of gifts. The children often open their gifts and hand out the gifts for the adults from under the tree. The gift-giver in Polish tradition is the Gwiazdka – Saint Nicholas' feminine counterpart – or the Gwiazdor (masculine), which is either a Pagan tradition, or represents the little Star of Bethlehem. Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
brings gifts on December 6. However this varies and in some families Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
is said to bring presents both on the 6th and on Christmas.

THE CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST

Christmas Day
Christmas Day
is a national holiday in Poland
Poland
and most Poles spend the day feasting with their family. Followed by Christmas
Christmas
Eve (Wigilia) there are two more days of Christmas
Christmas
celebration. Christmas breakfast often consists of scrambled eggs , cold-cuts served with horseradish sauce, smoked or fried salmon, marinated salads, coffee, tea and cakes, i.e. poppy seed roll, gingerbread (piernik) cake and cookies, kutia, etc.

SEE ALSO

* List of dining events

REFERENCES

_ Wikimedia Commons has media related to CHRISTMAS FOOD OF POLAND _.

* ^ "Wigilja" at www.wigilja.com

* Wigilia
Wigilia
article from the Polish American Center * Wigilia
Wigilia
article from Pope John Paul II Polish Center * Wigilia
Wigilia
article from the Polish Museum of America

* v * t * e

Christmas
Christmas

* Christmas Eve * Children\'s Day * Boxing Day * Nochebuena * Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
Day * St. Stephen\'s Day * Sol Invictus * Yule

In Christianity

* Biblical Magi
Biblical Magi

* Adoration of the Magi
Adoration of the Magi

* Adoration of the Shepherds
Adoration of the Shepherds
* Advent
Advent
* Angel Gabriel
Gabriel
* Annunciation
Annunciation
* Annunciation
Annunciation
to the shepherds * Baptism of the Lord * Bethlehem
Bethlehem
* Christingle * Christmastide
Christmastide
* Epiphany * Herod the Great
Herod the Great
* Jesus
Jesus
* Joseph * Mary

* Massacre of the Innocents

* flight into Egypt

* Nativity Fast

* Nativity of Jesus
Jesus

* in art * in later culture

* Nativity scene * Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
* Star of Bethlehem * Twelfth Night

IN FOLKLORE

* Badalisc * La Befana
Befana
* Belsnickel
Belsnickel
* Caganer * Christkind * Ded Moroz * Elves * Father Christmas
Christmas
* Grýla * Jack Frost
Jack Frost
* Joulupukki * Knecht Ruprecht * Korvatunturi * Krampus * Mikulás * Miner\'s figure * Mrs. Claus * Nisse/Tomte * North Pole
North Pole
* Old Man Winter * Olentzero
Olentzero
* Père Fouettard * Père Noël * Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
* Saint Lucy
Saint Lucy
* Santa\'s reindeer * Santa\'s workshop * Sinterklaas * Tió de Nadal * Vertep * Yule Cat * Yule Lads * Zwarte Piet

GIFT-BRINGERS

* Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
* Santa Claus * List of Christmas
Christmas
gift-bringers by country

TRADITIONS

* Advent
Advent
calendar * Advent
Advent
candle * Advent
Advent
wreath * Boar\'s Head Feast * Candle arches * Cards * Carols by Candlelight * Cavalcade of Magi * Crackers * Decorations * Events and celebrations * Feast of the Seven Fishes * Flying Santa * Hampers * Las Posadas * Letters * Lights * Markets * Meals and feasts * Moravian star
Moravian star
* Nine Lessons and Carols * NORAD Tracks Santa

* Nutcrackers

* dolls

* Ornaments

* Parades

* list

* Piñatas * Pyramids * _ Räuchermann _ * Seals * Secret Santa * _ Spanbaum _ * Stamps * Stockings * Tree * Twelve Days * Wassailing * Windows * Yule Goat * Yule log

BY COUNTRY

* Australia and New Zealand * Denmark * Germany * Hawaii * Hungary * Iceland * Indonesia * Ireland * Mexico * Norway * Philippines * Poland
Poland
* Romania * Russia * Scotland * Serbia * Sweden * Ukraine

MUSIC

* Carols

* list

* Hit singles UK * Hit singles US

OTHER MEDIA

* Films

* Poetry

* " Old Santeclaus with Much Delight " * " A Visit from St. Nicholas "

* Television

* specials * _ Yule Log _

In modern society

* Advent
Advent
Conspiracy * Black Friday (partying) * Black Friday (shopping) * Cyber Monday * Bronner\'s Christmas
Christmas
Wonderland * Christmas
Christmas
club * Christmas
Christmas
creep * Christmas Day
Christmas Day
(Trading) Act 2004 * Christmas
Christmas
Lectures * Christmas
Christmas
Mountains * Christmas
Christmas
truce * Controversies * Cyber Monday * Economics * El Gordo * Holiday season * In July * In August * Leon Day * NBA games * NFL games * Puritan New England * American Civil War * Post-War United States * Running of the Santas * SantaCon * Santa\'s Candy Castle * Super Saturday * Virginia O\'Hanlon * White Christmas
Christmas
* Winter festivals * WWE Tribute to the Troops
WWE Tribute to the Troops
* Xmas
Xmas

Food and drink

* Dinner

* Joulupöytä * Julebord * Kūčios * Réveillon * Twelve-dish supper * Smörgåsbord * Wigilia

* Sweets

* bûche de Noël * Cake * Candy cane * Cookies * Fruitcake
Fruitcake
* Gingerbread
Gingerbread
* Kourabiedes * Melomakarono * Mince pie * Pavlova * Pecan pie
Pecan pie
* Pumpkin pie * Pudding * Rosca de reyes * Szaloncukor * Turrón

* Soup

* Menudo

* Sauce

* Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce

* Beverages

* Apple cider * Champurrado * Eggnog

* Mulled wine
Mulled wine

* Smoking Bishop

* Ponche crema

* Dumpling

* Hallaca * Tamale

* Meat

* Ham * Roast goose
Roast goose
* Romeritos * Turkey * Stuffing

* Category
Category
* Commons * Portal